Thursday was out to get me. It was the only answer, the only possible reason for all this shit going down around me. The only answer I could think of. How else could things have gotten this bad? My skin crawling, that psychosomatic fire raging beneath my veins. The stone lions roared their empty challenges at the slate-cloaked sky, the blood red tori gates like pillars propping up the pressure of those boiling heavens.
Thursday was out to get me, after five days of living in drought. After five days without even a hint of scag, my delicious poison, my substance of choice. The cops had swooped in a hail of rubber bullets, with kettling walls of plastic riot shields. A week before Independence Day, they cleared out all the ’empty’ silos and drug dens, had rounded up the criminal class in the early morning. Desperate to present a clean face for the televisor viewers back on Earth.
Chinatown, with its perennially black alleyways and gold-embossed dragons, Chinatown was my best shot at getting a hit – the Triads smuggle all the best smack into the Martian colony. The scabs on my wrists were itching, I could feel my blood drying deep beneath my skin. Too long without scag. I could see the denizens lurking in the shadows cast by the awnings, awnings erected in a feeble attempt to block out the alien visage of Sol seen from too far away, a pinprick in the sky. They were more successful at blocking the Watch’s camera eyes mounted high in the hab-dome, more successful at keeping those cops from walking their beat.
I had told Jaques on Tuesday about the crawling in my skin, about my dreams – how I woke up at one of the desert silos. He just laughed, called me a fucken scag-head, told me to wake up to myself. Didn’t tell me to stop using, although he did mention that he was out of scag, thanks to the coppers. Mentioned Chinatown. As if I had a choice after he said that.
This damned itching, red pustules swelling underneath deep-bitten fingernails. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Bugs beneath my skin. Crawling, biting, bugs beneath my skin. It’s just my body chasing the scag. It’s just the body chasing more scag.
Fuck, I need some scag.
I see a likely dealer, looming, hulking, huge in the doorway. A sign swings above him in the artificial breeze: The Lucky Dragon. So blatant, so obvious. As obvious as I am, scratching away at scars on my arms, talking to myself in the street. The only non-helmeted white face in all of Chinatown.
“Got any scag, mate?” He smiles, nods me in through the doorway.
“What’s going on with those arms of yours, white-face?” The contempt is dripping from his tongue, he knows the answer, knows how desperately I’m chasing a hit. “Show us your creds first,” he moves to block the doorway.
“I got creds, dickhead.” I pull my cred-card, it’s yellow, meaning I’m good for at least another 30. He lights a cigarette – waves me through the door.
The fuzz are waiting on the other side. They spray me down with gas, set their tasers on me, an electric blue jelly-fish with tendrils of lightning. The shock of it opens the wounds on my wrist. A million little spiders born into the world.
The cops scream. The door swings open. Run. I slip on the cobblestones. Run. My wounds run. I slip, again. Run.